Learning a second language is a great way to create new opportunities for yourself. Whether it’s understanding the pendejo meaning from schoolyard bullies or wanting to connect with foreign business partners, there are a lot of hurdles on the track to fluency that can make many newcomers discouraged. Fortunately, there are a lot of tricks you can use to keep things easier on your tongue. Here are a few tips to help you prepare to begin a language-learning journey, no matter your dialect destination!
Focus on Goals
It’s important to remember why you are trying to learn a new language in the first place. If you just want to know that the pendejo meaning translates to a foolish or stupid person, then a simple guide to Spanish slang may be a better choice than studying a whole new way to read and write. There are many reasons why you may want to add a new language to your repertoire, such as vacationing or career opportunities.
Knowing why you want to learn will help you create a framework for your education. People more interested in travel may want to aim at a more conversational and practical vocabulary to facilitate meeting new people, ordering at restaurants, and getting help during an emergency. Someone looking to broaden their career opportunities overseas may wish to focus on the business vernacular to better prepare for important professional meetings and events.
Learning from Native Speakers
If you’re planning on using your newly developed skills in real-world situations, you’ll want to be educated by the best. For a foreign language, that means learning from a native speaker. While a professional teacher who has studied the topic for years is certainly knowledgeable, someone who has grown up with the language has much better insight into its use.
For example, a non-native Spanish teacher may be able to tell you the etymology and meaning of pendejo, a native speaker can guide you on its proper usage. In addition, some languages have distinct dialects depending on where in the world it is spoken. Spanish from Europe has a different vocabulary and slang words than in Latin America, making it critical that you understand the nature of the language your instructor is teaching.
The Importance of Immersion
While it may seem like a great idea to download a textbook for your chosen language and exclusively stick to coursework and studying, you’ll be missing out on some of the most effective methods of learning languages. Like you did as a baby, you’ll learn best from surrounding yourself with people and media that use it often. You can even incorporate some of your favorite pastimes and hobbies to make things more interesting. Some options include:
- Foreign Language Books and Films
- Native-speaking Restaurants
- Music and Podcasts
- Board and Video Games
- Traditional Recipes
- Journaling in the Language
Some learners even focus on slang, learning the meaning of pendejo or “mucho mierda to help liven up casual conversations. By continually engaging with the material, your mind will begin to make connections and form patterns, helping you to build a stronger foundation as you learn more about the chosen language.
Learning as an Adult
Many people feel that they are barred from learning a new language after a certain age. A recent study from MIT does suggest that the upper limit for native fluency peaks at around 17 years of age, it also points out that older candidates can still learn quickly. They just won’t attain that same level of fluency as their more youthful counterparts.
In reality, adults just don’t learn the same way as kids do. While it’s easier for younger learners to pick up on languages organically, older students tend to focus on the systematic aspects of language education. Therefore, older candidates should look for more instructional and repetitive methods to bolster their studies. Combined with a deep immersion in the language, deep studies can help learners master the language to an effective degree.
The Yearn to Learn
Taking on the task of learning a new language is never simple, though there are ways to make it much easier on yourself. A student surrounded by a language who uses it often is more likely to see positive results than someone who focuses mainly on bookwork. It also helps to receive your education from a native speaker who can show you all of the unwritten rules every dialect possesses. While it may take some time to become fluent, once you understand the language you can start teaching those bullies the real meaning of the word pendejo!